With the end of the outbreak and the lifting of travel restrictions finally here, many people suffering from cabin fever are gearing up and getting out of town. Depending on the distance to their planned destination, many people will have to take an airline flight to get to that far-off place. Even in the best of times traveling by air can be frustrating and stressful. Let’s face it, flying takes a good amount of energy and planning, from ordering the tickets to packing luggage, sometimes critical things can get left behind. One of the most common items forgotten about in the mad rush to reach the plane on time is a pair of earplugs, which can go a long way in preventing airplane ear.
Many passengers can experience ear barotrauma or “airplane ear” when the plane begins to climb after taking off or decrease altitude before landing. While the threat of permanent damage from airplane ear is negligible, it can be very uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and can lead to partial hearing loss. If a plane ride is part of your travel plans, here are some guidelines to follow to help you minimize the likelihood of developing airplane ear on your flight.
• Our ears are sensitive to the changes of pressure due to flying, so make sure to buy a pair of earplugs before you fly. By equalizing the pressure in the ear canal, you can avoid discomfort and a possible painful situation.
• Have some hard candy or chewing gum on hand while you fly. Yawning, chewing, and swallowing access the muscles that can help open the Eustachian tubes. Doing this can allow the pressure around the eardrum to equalize and provide relief.
• Learn the Valsalva maneuver, just close your mouth, pinch your nose, and gently blow. Doing this can help balance the pressure in your ears while the plane is ascending and descending. Repeat the maneuver as needed.
• Many mistakenly believe that taking a nap or sleeping can help reduce the chances of airplane ear. While this is a popular opinion, it is sadly incorrect. It’s important to stay awake and alert during takeoff and landing to perform the steps necessary to ward off airplane ear.
• Be conscious of potential personal health issues. It’s not a good idea to fly if you have an ear infection, cold, sinus infection, severe nasal congestion, or if you had any surgical procedures on or near your ear. Be sure to consult with your doctor before traveling on an airplane.